The innovative Vauxhall Meriva offers family-friendly transport thanks to its versatile seating and wide-opening doors
Mini MPVs may not be the most desirable cars in the world, but the Vauxhall Meriva has something in common with the Rolls Royce Phantom – its clever doors.
The front doors open conventionally, but to a point perpendicular to the body. The back ‘suicide’ doors hinge at the rear and make loading car seats an easy exercise without twisting. Older people would also find rear access easy using the grab handle provided. The rear seats slide back and forth and slide inwards for more shoulder room when the middle seat is folded. If you wish to carry larger loads, the seats fold to form a nice flat load bay and there is even some under floor storage where a space-saver tyre would have been placed.
In the front the Merriva dash echoes the stylish interior of the Insignia and there is decent practicality with rake and reach steering wheel and large storage bins. All cars have an electronic parking-brake, which means there is room for storage between the front seats.
There is a new 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, which offers a good balance of affordability, performance and economy. It combines well with the six speed manual gearbox, which is positioned nice and high, and always close to hand. This, combined with the light, accurate controls and the amazing amount of glass, (the range topper gets a panoramic sunroof), is very good for driving around town.
The Merriva’s suspension is quite firm but it deals with potholes pretty well, and overall the ride is nice and comfortable. One complaint is that on a motorway it produces a lot of wind and tyre noise, which can be annoying. Also the driving position is offset to the right of centre. Another fault is that the fit and finish is a little suspect. As a matter of price, air conditioning is not available on the entry model, and side air bags are only standard on the next model and curtain airbags the next model again. That is to say in order to get the Merriva you want, with the equipment you need, you can end up spending quite a lot.
But it does have Vauxhall’s 100k warranty and some clever rear doors.
Innovative doors, upmarket interior, flexible seating arrangement